Oliver Berry is a travel writer and photographer with over ten year’s experience with Lonely Planet. Given Oliver’s global travel experience, we couldn’t wait to read what he had to say about a weekend with us in his home county of Cornwall.
For me, winter in Cornwall always has a bit of magic about it. When the seas get restless, the wind whips up and the mists roll in, you really get a sense of what a wild, untamed place this still is, so being asked to visit Watergate Bay to capture it in all its wintry splendour was a bit of a dream assignment.
The most exciting thing about Cornwall in winter is that you never really have any idea what the weather is going to do. It can be clear blue skies and bright sunshine one day, thick fog and pelting rain the next.
And sure enough, we experienced pretty much every type of weather during our stay at the bay – the first day, we were basking in winter sunshine and had to pinch ourselves that we weren’t in California, then on the second, the bay came over all Narnia-esque, with this mesmerising white mist that drifted over the beach and turned everything ethereal and ghostly – fantastic for atmosphere, and for portraits too, but maybe not ideal for trying to learn stand-up paddleboarding.
When people ask me for tips on how to take better pictures, my advice is always the same. To get the really great landscape shots, the ones with that special atmosphere and light that makes the viewer sit up and take notice, there’s only one solution – and that’s to get up earlier and go to bed later than everyone else.
At midday, when the sun is directly overhead, the light is generally very harsh and flat, and generally doesn’t make for great pictures. Nearly always, the best light is just after dawn and just before dusk, when the sun is lower in the sky, the light is softer, and the colours are strongest (photographers sometimes call this the ‘golden hour’). I was up before dawn everyday during my time at Watergate, and didn’t head back inside until after dark – it’s hard work sometimes, especially in winter, but you just never know what might happen. And as long as you have a decent pair of gloves, you won’t come to too much harm.
One other tip I often give is not to be deterred by bad weather. Just because it’s not sunny, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should put your camera away. People get a bit obsessed by having blue skies in their pictures, but for me, the best photographs are when the world looks all moody and atmospheric. Sometimes, bad weather makes you see the scenery in a totally different way.
My favourite shot from this week is the one of the birds on the misty beach, which is all muted browns, silvers and greys. For me, it really captures what winter in Cornwall is all about.
Oliver Berry is a travel writer and photographer based in Cornwall. His assignments have carried him all over the world, from Myanmar to Mauritius, but he still tends to find the best scenery is usually found at home.
Book your stay at Watergate Bay Hotel online or call 01637 860543.